Orlando is filled with talented, creative individuals who bring the stage to life in a variety of mediums. One such individual is Charles Stevens, who has made a name for himself in the area’s entertainment industry.
Charles moved to Florida from New York when he was in middle school and spent his teenage years in Deland. After graduation, he headed to Rollins College, where instructors like Dan Crozier, professor of music, theory and composition, and John Sinclair, the head of the music department, nurtured his talents as he worked toward a degree in opera.
Years later, John and Charles crossed paths again when Charles performed with the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, where John was the main conductor. It was the first time John had the opportunity to conduct a Rollins student – a full circle moment that exemplifies the life of an Orlando performer.
Being an entertainer here means filling the glee calendar with opportunities from various employers. Those opportunities could be with a theme park one day and with an Orlando theater like The Rep or Theater West End the next. It could be leading local students in their school productions or rocking out on stage for a musical performance at a variety of local venues.
“As a freelancer, you have to kind of make your full-time hours a la carte based on what’s in front of you at the moment,” Charles said.
Just as their role may change gig by gig, so, too can their position within the industry. For Charles and many other performers, the ability to shift in this way is an inspiring necessity.
“In this community, one second someone who is your castmate and who would be considered on equal footing could be your director at a different spot,” Charles explained. “The fact that someone is an amazing performer then can become an amazing director or writer, I respect that a lot about our community.”
Charles is also involved in educational theater, something he first got into at Central Florida Community Arts. He taught classes there and was a musical director for their high school musical shows. He most recently worked with middle and high school students at Windermere Preparatory School and has even won an Applause Award for the music directing and production of “Crazy for You” at Winter Park High School. Just as his Rollins instructors did for him, he’s passing what he knows to the next generation of entertainers.
“I think what I like bringing to the table as a music director for these high schoolers and middle schoolers is that there’s a career path for the arts that isn’t Hollywood or Broadway,” he says. “You can raise a family and feel comfortable, and it doesn’t have to be the big things that people imagine.”